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Jeff McIntosh/Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

Fewer Canadians received regular employment insurance benefits in November.

Statistics Canada says the number of people receiving regular EI payments declined to 795,900 in November, down 7,300 from the previous month and down about 33,400 from the peak in June.

There were declines from October to November in seven of Canada's 10 provinces, with the biggest month-to-month declines reported in Quebec and British Columbia in November.

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There were, however, more people receiving employment insurance last November than a year earlier, as the economy slowed dramatically.

Statistics Canada says the number of people getting EI peaked in June at 829,300.

Employment insurance is a government-administered program funded by contributions from workers and their employers.

There has been heated political debate over the past year about the rules for getting EI payments.

Ottawa has frozen how much employers and employees have to contribute to the EI system this year at 2009 levels and extended special employment insurance benefits to the self-employed.

Statistics Canada said Friday that the number of initial and renewal claims for regular EI benefits in November amounted to 270,700, up 1,300 or 0.5 per cent from the previous month.

Increases in Ontario and Alberta in the number of claims were mostly offset by decreases in Quebec and British Columbia, Statistics Canada said.

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Despite this small increase in November, the number of EI claims received has been on a downward trend since peaking at 327,700 in May, 2009, with declines in every province, it added.

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